Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday's Five - Wisdom of Age, Wonder of Youth

Let me start this post by saying that I am amazed at the wonders of modern technology, invigorated by the natural wonder of kids, and appreciative for the wisdom of older generations.  I'm writing this post on my iPad at 36,000 feet while flying home from a visit with my grandparents in Florida.  Last night I heard wonderful stories about the jobs they had between my grandfather's service in WWII and the time he opened a jewelry store in New York. This morning I had the pleasure of explaining to my 6 year old why walking on the clouds he sees from the plane window would be impossible. Great stuff!
Photo Credit:  worradmu
Along those lines, I was wondering if it's possible to combine those 3 things (technology, wisdom of the older generation, and the wonders of youth) to create incredible learning opportunities for our students.  Here's five ideas:
  1. Service learning projects involving local senior centers.  Students could read to seniors, help maintain the gardens, or help in other ways.  Afterwards, they could blog about their experiences and what they learned.
  2. Invite senior experts into the school, or videoconference, to offer guidance on projects.  I am always looking for community members to help my students learn about real-word situations and problem solving.  There are plenty of situations where students can collaborate with retired members of the community.  My grandfather, for example, has Skyped in with middle school students to explain his experiences as a Jewish soldier liberating Concentration Camps during World War II.
  3. Allow students to teach what they learn to seniors.  My grandparents mention often that they love when their community brings in college professors to give lectures.  Why can't our students do the same thing? My students would love to teach others how to use new technology, share their learning experiences, and present their projects with others.  It seems like a perfect match.
  4. Invite local seniors in for a "games day" where they can teach their favorite card and board games to students.  The kids can then create descriptions and written directions of the games afterwards to publish on the class wiki or website.  In addition to being the catalyst for a great writing assignment, the interaction during the games would be great for everyone involved. 
  5. Have children publish a biography of their grand-parent or other senior as a blog post.  They can do a series of interviews, and then compile a collection of stories from that person's life.  This way, the stories are saved forever, and students get a chance to learn a bit about their family history.